With growing numbers of veterans returning to Southern Arizona facing high unemployment, Pima County plans to open a new One Stop center with specific services for them next month.
The new center, tentatively called the Kino Veterans One Stop Workforce Center, is set to open in July at 2801 E. Ajo Way.
The center will consolidate veterans services in one place, "where we can assist a vet in two areas: benefits and services, and employment and training," said program coordinator Art Burrola.
The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty since September 2001 was 12.1 percent last year.
About 1,200 veterans from the regular armed forces will be coming home to Southern Arizona over the next two years, and about 4,400 National Guard and Reserve members will become veterans due to planned reductions in military forces, according to Pima County estimates.
"Sometimes they get lost because they don't know how to transfer their military skills to civilian life, and we can help with that," Burrola said.
The people who work at the One Stop are veterans, too, and veterans feel more comfortable with peers and take in more information, said Frank Real, an Army veteran who is a disabled veteran outreach program specialist at One Stop.
When veterans visit the One Stop, they can fill out an assessment form that will help case managers understand their priorities, such as first getting housing before starting a job search, Real said.
Veterans can get counseling on how to take advantage of benefits for education and medical care, he said. And One Stop centers offer help looking for work through workshops and public computers, one-on-one help and job training, Burrola said.
In one example, One Step is helping a veteran who is a nurse with physical limitations. The veteran wants to get certified in forensic nursing, he said.
One Stop helped another veteran find and combine various grants to make more affordable the training classes to be instrumentation technician, he said.
Partners in the new One Stop center include Veterans Affairs, Arizona Department of Veterans Services, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona and its Rally Point peer-mentoring program, with more to come.
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4346.